Feature Article: Grow Your Circle of Influence

Women are born to network! Networking in its purest form is simply talking to people, making connections and developing rapport to grow our circle of influence. Business networking is essentially the same except that our primary objective in business networking is to help us grow our businesses. For most of us, hbuilding a network means meeting people we can do business with or who will do business with us, or refer people who will do business with us, are our ultimate goals. I believe getting involved in networking groups, like Business Women Connect, can be a great resource to facilitate this process!

Networking is not only for finding jobs or clients. In an economy dominated by ideas and innovation, networking creates the channels through which ideas flow and in which new ideas are created. A large network, carefully cultivated, ties one into not just a body of people but a body of relationships, and those relationships are more than just the sum of their parts. The interactions those relationshiops make possible give rise to innovation and creativity - and provide the support to nurture new ideas until they can be realized.

Charles "Tremendous" Jones has said that five years from now your life will be exactly the same except for two things: 1) the books you have read, and 2) the people you have met. Networking is your key to making really interesting, helpful and powerful contacts.

If you are looking to expand your circle of influence, it is a good idea to develop a plan and a list of people you want to add to your network. Then become an active participant and attend seminars and events where you will have the opportunity to meet those people. A secret to good networking is do what you love to do or would love to learn. If you enjoy sports, for example, join a group that gets together to watch football.

You will have fun and meet people with similar interests. Love to give back? Join a group that has a cause to help the community. You will easily connect with like-minded people.

When you do get into a conversation, it is wise to keep focus on the other person rather than on yourself. Become a good listener and always smile. Also, learning to remember and properly pronounce the names of people you meet is not just good manners it is a good business and networking skill.

Women are natural connectors and networking is all about giving. Networking communities create a culture of giving, sharing, and being other's focused. I encourage you to engage in networking activities in your market as you enthusiastically embrace your dreams and impact the lives of other business women in your community.

So as you look to acquire more clients and customers, market and promote who you are and what you have to offer, networking will give you access to important resources, influential business leaders, game-changing ideas and unique opportunities. Most importantly, you can make a difference in your community and make new friends along the way! I look forward to seeing you soon!